One of the advantages of following a plant based diet is it allows me to experiment with a variety of fruits and veggies. If I didn’t experiment I would get bored really easily. I always say I was destined to be a vegan because I seem to love almost every kind of vegetable.
However, there are a few I still don’t care for too much. I don’t like green peas and I always thought I wasn’t a fan of zucchini and squash. Before I became a vegan the only way I’d eat squash was in a casserole loaded with cheese. Since I don’t eat cheese, and casseroles are typically loaded with calories, I’ve had to come up with other alternatives. That’s what inspired me to write this blog. I have recently discovered spaghetti squash and I absolutely love it.
There are two things that surprised me about it – how easy it is to cook and how much it mimics the flavor of spaghetti. When I first bought it I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to cook it, and I wasn’t sure of how it takes the form of spaghetti. Well, it turns out I was worried for nothing because it’s so easy. Best of all, it’s not only good, but really good for you.
Spaghetti squash is an oblong, mildly flavored yellow winter squash whose flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands when you cook it and run a fork through it. If you need to watch your carbs, it’s a perfect substitute for traditional spaghetti and pasta. Anyone with diabetes or is pre-diabetic should consider this as an option. Obviously, diabetics need to watch their sugar intake. Since carbohydrates break down in the body as sugar it’s dangerous for diabetics to consume excessive carbs.
Here are a few reasons why you should incorporate spaghetti squash into your diet as a substitute for pasta.
1. With its low-calorie and carbohydrate counts, spaghetti squash makes a good substitute for pasta if you are watching your weight or carbohydrate intake.
2. Spaghetti squash is low in fat, low in salt and has 5% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.
3. Spaghetti squash has only 27 calories, compared to 158 calories in pasta.
4. Spaghetti squash has 7 grams of carbohydrates; pasta has 31 grams.
5. Spaghetti squash supplies modest amounts of carotenoids, which are plant substances that the body turns into Vitamin A and that may help protect against some diseases.
As a final note, there are some areas where the nutritional benefits of pasta exceed those of spaghetti squash. Pasta provides more Vitamin A and more protein. I’m not saying pasta is bad; there are many healthy varieties of it. It’s just not the best choice for those who are diabetic or want to lose weight.
Here’s a simple recipe for Spaghetti Squash:
NOTE: Like all winter squash, spaghetti squash can be cut in half or into chunks and baked, boiled or microwaved. This recipe calls for it to stay intact, whole.
1. Take a whole spaghetti squash; make several slits all over it (to keep it from exploding in the oven).
2. Place it in the oven and bake for 1-1 ½ hours.
3. Run a fork through the cooked squash flesh to separate it into strands.
4. To use it as a spaghetti substitute, top the squash with marinara sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan…or substitute parmesan for nutritional yeast to make it vegan friendly.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database, 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash provides 42 calories, 0.4 gram of fat, 1 g of protein, 10 g of carbohydrate (4 g of sugar) and 2.2 g of fiber.
Question: Is this something you might consider as an alternative to pasta? Please leave a comment here.